Thailand Corn: Unlimited Quota Ends, Price Volatility Emerges


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According to the USDA, Thailand’s MY2023/24 Corn production remains 5.4 MMT. A recovery in main-season crop acreage due to rising farm-gate prices will marginally increase MY2023/24 Corn production compared to MY 2022/23. In January-July 2023, the average Corn farm-gate price was 10,930 baht/MT ($317/MT), an 8% increase over the same period in 2022 and an 11 percent jump from the 5-year average of 8,986 baht/MT ($261/MT) due to uncertainty in the global Corn trade and supplies.

However, farmers are still looking for higher return crops as they face high input costs, including chemical fertilizers, which account for 16-20 percent of total production costs, and growing concern over water availability. The average fertilizer price in the first half of 2023 was 24,711 baht per MT ($717/MT), up 6 percent from 23,288 baht per MT ($675/MT) in the same period in 2022.

Post revised its MY2022/23 Corn production to 5.35 MMT, slightly up from MY2021/22, mainly due to favorable weather conditions and higher farm-gate prices. MOAC reported limited damage from fall armyworm and Downy mildew diseases for both primary and off-season Corn production as farmers effectively applied pest management skills learned during the severe fall armyworm outbreak in 2018.

MY2023/24 Corn imports are projected at 1.5 MMT, the 5-year average, as swine production recovers and poultry production grows in the second half of 2023. Swine production is expected to recover 80 percent of production capacity before the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in 2022. Also, the government is likely to maintain import restrictions on feed wheat, which require feed mills to purchase domestic Corn at a guaranteed floor price before importing feed wheat.

The import restrictions on feed wheat will keep domestic Corn prices high and drive import demand for Corn from neighboring countries, mainly Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. Corn imports from these countries enjoy duty-free access with unlimited quota between February 1 and August 31. However, Thai importers expect Burmese Corn supplies to be tighter as border trade between Burma and China resumes. Also, importers are concerned about price volatility in Burmese Corn due to the Burmese government’s tight exchange rate regulation.

MY2022/23 Corn imports totaled 1.18 MMT, down 22 percent from MY2021/22 due to high import prices and tight global supplies. Burma supplied more than 85 percent of Corn imports, followed by Laos at 8 percent. Between January 1 and August 14, 2023, imported Corn prices were 12,750 baht/MT ($370/MT), 3 percent higher than last year.

Thailand’s Swine Raisers Association calculated that hogs and swine feed demand dropped 20 and 12 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 following the ASF outbreak. The decline in swine feed demand exceeded a gradual growth in demand for poultry feed. Demand for poultry meat has increased domestically and globally as an affordable protein meat substitute for pork. Moreover, illegal imports of pork meat (estimated at 6.9 billion baht ($200 million) in 2022 by Thai Customs Department) further complicated the recovery of local swine farms.

Other Grain Imports in Thailand

Imports of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) between July and June 2023 fell to 196 MT or by 25 percent relative to the previous year and 58 percent below the 5-year average of 469 TMT. Uncertainty about fumigation requirements in the new import protocol and high import prices contributed to declining imports. The United States accounted for 92 percent of all DDGS imports to Thailand in 2021. In addition, Barley imports rose to 439 TMT, up significantly from last year’s period. Australia was Thailand’s primary Barley supplier, which has duty-free access under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

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